Uttar Pradesh is all set to go for three-phase municipal elections in the last two weeks of November. The upcoming elections are touted to be a litmus test for CM Yogi Adityanath as a victory or defeat in the same will signal whether the priest turned politician has been able to maintain his party’s popularity level. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) too is taking the elections with utter seriousness and it seems that the party has designed the entire campaign keeping every section of the society in mind. Party’s ticket distribution, manifesto and face for the elections have been spot-on so far. While the ticket distrubution is aimed to console party’s core vote base, the campaign and manifesto are unprecedented from BJP for a number of reasons and look to strenghthen party’s prospects in the elections.
The Bharatiya Janata Party this time has given priority to Baniya Brahmin community in ticket distribution. The two communities which form BJP’s core vote base in UP were reportedly upset with the party over lesser representation in government. Out of total 14 seats for Mayor elections, the saffron party has fielded 11 members from Baniya Brahmin community. While Brahmin constitute 11 per cent of the population in UP, Baniyas are 2 per cent. Despite being lesser in numbers, Baniyas or Vaishya, are considered a wealthy community and play an important role in election financing at local levels. As a matter of fact, the organisation was referred to as a “Baniya-Brahmin party” until PM Narendra Modi’s mega campaign in 2014.
BJP’s manifesto remains the highlight of party’s election this time. Launched by Adityanath, the Sankalp Patra promises to provide “world-class facilities” to urban residents to appeal to the maximum number of voters. With that, BJP has also become the only party to release a centralised manifesto for the local body polls. This means that now the councillors and mayor candidate will go door to door and carry out a similar campaign document. Traditionally, the candidates used to make their separate manifestoes focussing on local issues. It remains to be seen if the candidates continue this practice or not. This will also lay out a clear vision for the candidates as to how and what they have to promise to their voters. All in all, it will help party units at district levels to fight elections with a common agenda.
Carrying a picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah on the top of the cover page, BJP’s Patra covers almost all issues which are directly related to the needs of urban voters. To mention in general, the topics cover issues like drinking water, waste management, health, housing, power supply, lighting, traffic, transportation and sanitation. This time too, the party is looking to woo women, voters, as much as it can. As a highlight, it has promised a free tap connection to every household, Rs. 20,000 for building private toilets in each house and LED street lights – something which is likely to appeal to lower middle class. To woo the commoners, the party has promised to start air-conditioned bus services in all major cities. For youths, it has promised to provide free Wi-Fi at major public places. For women, the manifesto promises to build pink toilets at main marketplaces, and link tourist sites in all six areas of the State with helicopter services.
It is remarkable that BJP, which is traditionally very strong in these elections, has started an unprecedented campaign with Adityanath himself anchoring party’s poll campaign. Not only that, some of the top leaders are likely to join Uttar Pradesh CM to strengthen party’s prospects. While launching the manifesto, Adityanath said, “We enter every election like it is an examination. The Opposition is already running away from the field.” The priest turned politician has chosen Ayodhya to kickstart his campaign. Not to forget here, Ayodhya and Mathura-Vrindavan municipal corporations, constituted by Yogi Adityanath government, will go to polls for the first time. These two separate municipal corporations cover religiously significant towns of Ayodhya and Mathura.
The elections are also significant for BJP due to reasons extraneous to Uttar Pradesh politics. The results of these elections would be out declared on December 1, much before the two-phase Gujarat polling on December 9 and 14 and might have a symbolic impact on the latter.